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Digicel to tear down Chinese equipment

It has been only been a few months since Telstra took over Digicel Pacific and the company has been quick to announce its next refresh which includes possibly tearing out its Huawei-built equipment on its mobile infrastructure.

The reason given is national security as fears are still being maintained that China uses its state owned company’s equipment to spy.

Oliver Camplin-Warner, Telstra International chief executive said in a statement that since the acquisition Digicel Pacific was tracking ahead of financial expectations.

He said they would only remove equipment from Chinese state-owned infrastructure company Huawei – like the then-Turnbull government told local telcos to do in 2018 – due to national security concerns.

It has been only been a few months since Telstra took over Digicel Pacific and the company has been quick to announce its next refresh which includes possibly tearing out its Huawei-built equipment on its mobile infrastructure. Picture: Digicel Fiji

“In terms of any refreshes or upgrades in future dates, then that’s when we’ll look to fall in line with the standards we have here in Australia,” Mr Camplin-Warner said.

If the company does decide to move in this direction, then the costs associate with the exercise would run into millions of dollars.

Digicel is now present in most Pacific countries and the bigger nations such as Papua New Guinea and Fiji provide a geographical challenge as well.

Mr Camplin-Warner said the Digicel mobile provider had given his business new subsea cable options and would combine well with its existing operations in Asia.

“Digicel Pacific is performing well, and I think it is going to provide us with a lot of upsides,” he said.

“We are market leaders in Asia, and with the Digicel Pacific acquisition, we’re really now stretching that into Asia-Pacific. The financials are ahead of plan.”

In the July takeover, Telstra contributed US$270 million (AUD$392 million) while Australian taxpayers footed a massive bill of $US1.6 billion bill.

As part of the deal, Telstra gets priority dividends in a deal with the government, which pushed for the buyout fearing Chinese interests could purchase the struggling Digicel.

After the takeover, Digicel Pacific has continued operations as normal without any major changes which includes rebranding. This has to do a lot with the involvement of the Australian government.

Mr Camplin-Warner said this does not mean that Digicel Pacific receives any less attention.

Staff of Digicel Pacific in Suva, Fiji after Telstra announced its takeover. Picture: Digicel Fiji

The plans now are to move into the American market with a Canada launch expected some time soon and then moving to Latin America.

“We’re currently in conversations around Latin America as well,” Mr Camplin-Warner said.

“We specialise in having local resources on the ground. They are really great at qualifying new markets and countries.

“If you look at the international strategy, we are going to grow in wholesale, which is core business today. We will grow in enterprise, so enterprise customers supporting multinationals around the world to connect.”

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